Change of Tack

By Mary Rook |

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my wonderful friends and followers for all your awesome support over the last 10 years, it has been an extraordinary journey and one I am proud to have been through.

After this summer of yachting I have decided to leave the world of professional boating and take the life altering decision to become a secondary school science teacher!

Professional sport is a wonderful privilege and something that will shape my life forever. I am extremely lucky to have been on this amazing adventure and I am greatly thankful to the many people who have given me support and opportunities along the way. In particular I would like to thank my tireless and wonderful parents and Godfather Bob without whom absolutely none of this could have happened; Dee Caffari for taking me on and teaching me what longitude and latitude actually meant; Charles Darbyshire for all of his advice and The Offshore Academy for giving me the chance to sail around on my own in the most competitive offshore sailing class in the world. A final thank you goes to Philip whose help this year has been invaluable and I am looking forward to working together again.

There are several reasons behind my decision and it’s hard to put it all into words. Behind the adventures and fabulous travels, the life of a professional sailor is tricky. By nature you have to be a selfish being, focused on your goal at the expense of every relationship around you. It’s an isolated and self-promoting existence where you ride an emotional roller coaster that takes you to the very extremes of yourself.

It is hard for every sailor to find the next project, sponsorship money, and the next boat to sail on but there is absolutely no doubt about it, IT IS even harder when you are a girl. It is a constant battle to compete against the other people around you, to get that ride and persuade people that you are actually good at what you do. It’s hard to persuade yourself that you are good at what you do, after some particularly painful competitive moments. Thinking forward to my life ahead and the person I want to be, the characteristics I want to be known for, I didn’t like what I had to become in order to compete.

No doubt teaching isn’t going to be an easy ride and my wonderful teacher friends promise no day is ever the same. I am really excited to start this enormous new challenge and have goals and tasks already paving the way ahead of me, just how I like it. I have already been struck with the enormity of the Herculean task ahead; to re-learn science and remember how to write academically (not sure I ever really knew).

But I hope this will be the start of another adventure, the challenges will be different; managing stroppy teenage tantrums rather than 50 knots alone in the Bay of Biscay. I’m sure there will be some days I will just wish I were alone in the middle of the ocean watching the dolphins dance.

Far from giving up sailing I have already made extensive plans for my ‘giving up pro sailing to go sailing’ campaign. I can’t wait to get back in a wetsuit again and hit up the UK dinghy scene. I look forward to continue coaching during the school holidays and will always support the work of the Magenta Project in encouraging women into high performance sailing in any way I can. Sailing was never just a job it will always be my life. Just as it will never feel done.

Enormous thanks for all the kind wishes along the way, knowing so many people had read my ramblings was really lovely part of the journey.

For more from Mary head here